PORT SULPHUR, La. — Louisiana’s commercial fishing industry could be in jeopardy due to the state’s Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion Project, part of the state’s fifty billion dollar initiative supported by Governor John Bel Edwards.
“I used to fish out here with my dad in High School and we used to catch loads and loads of oysters and that was the biggest sea plant in Louisiana,” says commercial fisherman Shane Shelley.
Shelley is talking about an area known as “Mardi Gras Pass” and what you see out there today, is the direct result of a failed salinity control structure. -a structure that’s been in disrepair for the past eight years.
Parish president Amos Cormier says the failed structure is of great concern as the Mid-Barataria Project will likely produce the same results tenfold.
“There are a lot of questions that need to be answered and again, looking back at history and what occurred as noted in the Rising Tide book of 1927, we want to make sure that we have something in writing to protect the people of Plaquemines,” says Cormier.
This, as the federal permitting and review process was recently streamlined by the federal government and the uncertainty of Louisiana’s fishing industry remains unknown.
“It’s going to change the mixture of water which oysters don’t survive in, crabs or shrimp. This could change everything,” says terry.
We set out to find out and what we found was surprising. Oysters pulled out of a highly fresh water area were covered with muscles, many of them dead in the water. Conversely, oysters pulled from brackish water, where they are known to thrive, weren’t covered with any muscles and were thriving.
But the diversion project isn’t all doom and gloom. The project intends to stabilize Louisiana’s coastline and protect coastal communities from hurricane storm surge.
Trouble is no matter how streamlined the project may be, there’s no swift resolution and once established, it’s going to take years to build and maintain sustainable wetlands and land.
“You can go down the river and see a sandbar but I don’t see where it’s building any land. I believe that the state of Louisiana is just sinking at a rate that we cannot stop. It’s just going down,” says Terry.